Thursday, November 22, 2012

From the Earth to the Moon
by Jules Verne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love early science fiction and Jules Verne is the grandaddy of the genre (I recently read "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" and it was a great read). However, with this one I had to wade through 112 pages of mostly technical and engineering detail with very little dialogue until anything like an interesting plot development occurs. It's hard to know whether the Frenchman Verne genuinely admires Civil War era American ingenuity or whether his praise is an ironic device designed to point out the folly and hubris of the same. Certainly the unresolved ending leaves open the possibility that the novel is more critique than adoration.  As J. T. Maston muses at the book's conclusion, "Those three men [admittedly one is a Frenchman] have carried into space all the resources of art, science, and industry.  With that one can do anything..." Perhaps, but then perhaps not.  H. G. Wells' "The First Men in the Moon," obviously inspired by this earlier work of Verne's has far greater narrative appeal and depth of character development. However, anyone who wishes to understand the science fiction genre will want to read "From the Earth to Moon" even if only for its historic significance.

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Ross said...

Have you seen the movie "Hugo," in which Ben Kingsley appears as Georges Méliès, whose 1902 film "A Trip to the Moon" is partially based on Verne's novel? I only got around to seeing it last weekend.

Glen O'Brien said...

Yes I saw Hugo and loved it. It was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars last year and was certainly well deserving, though it lost out to The Artist which was also very good.


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